Australians had reached into their pockets for $13.6m (A$20m) by the time the clock struck midnight on June 30, the deadline for investment in Macquarie Bank and the Nine Network's second film and television production fund.
While they did not dig as deeply as last year, which saw $16m (A$23.6m) raised, it will enable two of the five features in the prospectus to be produced.
The $3m (A$4.5) comedy You And Your Stupid Mate is about two friends who learn they have to work for their unemployment payments, that a freeway is going to be built through the caravan park where they live and that their favourite soap opera is going to be axed. It is to be produced and directed by Marc Gracie, one of the producers on the commercial hit The Craic and the yet-to-be-released Take Away, which he also directed. Bryce Menzies will executive produce.
The Craic was written by its star performer Jimeoin, and he will take these honours again in the $3.7m (A$5.5m) romantic comedy The Extra, the second film to be made under the fund. It is about an ordinary guy who goes to the big city determined to change his fortunes - and get more casual sex. No director is attached but it is being produced by Bruno Charlesworth, and business partners Mark Ruse and Stephen Luby, whose producing credits include Crackerjack.
"It was a reasonable result in a difficult market," said Macquarie Film Corporation chair Charles Wheeler. He blamed macro economic issues for the disappointing result compared to last year, citing investors' appetite for risk being dampened by various company failures.
This is the fourth time in five years that investment bank Macquarie has expanded the pool of money available to Australian filmmakers. The industry is still waiting to see whether the two-year trial scheme that kicked off Macquarie's entry into film will be continued by government.
Nine's majority shareholder is media mogul Kerry Packer, who also owns Hoyts Distribution, which will handle the local release of both films. The rest of the money raised will go to television.